GE Digital and the University of New Orleans are celebrating four years of leading an award-winning, student-centered program that gives computer science students the hands-on professional experience they need to launch successful careers.
Founded in 2014, the Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program—better known as SWEAP—has already transitioned more than 40 University of New Orleans computer science majors from working as apprentices at GE Digital to joining the company as full-time software engineers.
The program, which was a silver winner in the 2017 International Economic Development Council’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards, gives students the opportunity to access career tracks in business intelligence, user experience, software engineering and security. Every student who goes through the apprenticeship works as a paid, part-time software developer, earning the hourly pay rate equivalent to a junior-level position.
Ted Holmberg, industry liaison for the Department of Computer Science, helps students entering the department to start building a relationship within the professional community. “SWEAP serves GE as an extended interviewing process,” Holmberg said. “GE can integrate students into professional software teams and train them in their technology stacks, using their proven development methodologies.”
With 14 more students expected to enter the program this summer, it’s clear the partnership has been a win for all parties. Participants receive training from senior-level software engineers in an environment fully equipped with industry-standard tools. Students are able to try different roles within the company to find the best fit for their work styles and skills.
"Our partnership with UNO has been a remarkable source of talent for GE Digital,” said Dustin Gaspard, technical development leader for GE Digital New Orleans. “We can always count on students from UNO to bring a high level of skill and maturity to each project they take on.”
Mahdi Abdelguerfi, professor and chair of computer science at the University of New Orleans, says the program has been an attractive draw for future students. "Since the program launched, the number of UNO computer science majors has nearly doubled, totaling almost 400 students," Abdelguerfi said.